We Media: Old media, new media

>>> Paidcontent.org has Al Gore’s speech available for download as a podcast.

Third discussion: We Inc.

Jason McCabe Calcanis (moderator, WebLogs Inc.). Scott Rafer (Chairman, Wireless Inc.), Craig Forman (VP & GM, Yahoo!), Jennifer Feikin (Director, Google Video), Andrew Heyward (President, CBS News).

Heyward: There is a danger of over-simplyfying and it’s bad the VP left. But we have an empty chair representing him. What Gore said is fairly common cricisism.

Calcanis: Do you think bloggers are now what 60 Minutes used to be?

Heyward: There is still great work done on television. 60 Minutes is still the no.1 news magazine. One misunderstadings about conglomerates is that they are actively telling us what to cover. That is not true. There is still a firewall. The issue, as the VP said, are the sins of omission. But if there wasn’t the marketplace for the runaway bride it won’t be on as much as it is. The Interent is exciting because you are not stuck with a linear medium.

Rafer: The takeaway from the VP’s talk is not to exaggerate the effect we’re already having. We’re not touching too many people yet. Most importantly, we’re more likely to touch people in the higher socio-economic bracket. The issue we face is that people ar enot able to find the tools to hear individual voices and it’ll be 10-15 years until that is going to change. There is no market efficiency; the FCC is the biggest source of corporate welfare. In an analog world there is a limit to bandwith, but that’s not true for Wi-Fi.

Calcanis: Yahoo, are you a content company or not?

Forman: The good old days are always good and old. Present is horrible. Future is great. That’s what is always been said. So I take from Gore’s speech that it was a better world when just a few people owned presses. I look at today and I say to myself “this has just begun.” We are looking to do two things: on the user side there is an openess to find what is out there, find what’s interesing. The other thing is a shift to My Media — users control. So we’re doing all things you described — we create content (such as Hotzone) and we create experiments. We are creating the tools and the ability for people to share their own content. During London, what struck me most was Flickr — which became a self-organizing pool of creative photojournalism. The community created a set of tags, which allowed others to see what was going on.

Feikin: If you look at the Internet, the WWW has been around for 15 years. What has happened in the past 15 years, it’s been pretty phenomenal. Look at search engines — they provide insight that previously wasn’t available. News reports have been broken on the Internet. User-generated content is the next level.

Heyward: The faustian bargain of the mainstream media is having to achieve commerciality to survive. To do good, you need to do well. You could buy content online, but right now the distribution is weak. In Internet news there are few journalistic stars or succesful storyteling models.

Forman: The Internet has not shown the traditional qualities of print and broadcast reporting, such as enterprise reporting. Probably because it’s still new. For people under the age of 40 the definition of news has changed: it can be breadth, depth, accuracy in real time and “respect my intelligence.” It’ll be interesting to see how this develops.

Calcanis: You said the Internet is not telling compelling stories, but what about PaidContent?

Forman: But what PaidContent is doing is the same thing as traditional reporting. It’s breaking news delivered in a compelling way.

Calcanis: Intergration between the news and online divisions…

Heyward: If someone would try to blog and give their opinions, we’d discourage that. But our reporters accepted the challenge to report for the Web — it’s been a huge succes. When you move to editorializing, that’s not what I’d like to want our reporters to do.

Calcanis: A lot of people believe blogosphere is succesful because audience is not buying the idea of objectivity…

Rafer: Editorial bias has always been a fact. What is more important is reputation. There is bias on PaidContent regarding how the blogosphere is growing, but Rafat’s got a great reputation. The best of the writers on the blogospheres are the folks with a reputation for saying: “here is my position and here are the facts wrapped around it.” The reptation is something a lot of people can come to a general concurrence on. Bias is going to exist.

Calcanis: So transparency leads to a better product?

Forman: For me is about authenticity. There will continue to be a premium on authentic speech on deeply views, news and opinion. When you’re a journalist, you have tremendous duties or responsabilities. When you’re an individual it’s not like that.


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